By Anna Claudia Duker
The Head of Tobacco and Substances Abuse at the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) Mrs Olivia Boateng has stated the misconception that shisha is not as bad as cigarettes because the tobacco is flavored and passes through water first is untrue. The carcinogens and nicotine are still in there.
According to her, the volume of smoke inhaled in an hour-long shisha session is estimated to be the equivalent of smoking about a hundred (100) to two hundred (200) sticks of cigarettes.
Mrs. Boateng addressing the media and students at a health walk organized by the FDA last Saturday ahead of the World Tobacco Day on May 31st stated “There is no safe form of tobacco use. Tobacco, whether smoked, chewed or sniffed contains nicotine which is highly addictive and deadly.”
The walk started at the Madina market through the principal streets of Madina and ended at the Presbyterian Boys Senior High School.
Every year, on 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) and global partners celebrate World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The annual campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, and to discourage the use of tobacco in any form. The theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day is “Tobacco and lung health”.
The Head of Department noted, eight (8) million people worldwide are killed by the tobacco epidemic of which more One (1) million are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke.
“Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world killing up to half of its users prematurely”, she stated.
She revealed, tobacco products are known to contain 7,000 chemicals; hundreds of which are known to be toxic and about 69 are carcinogenic, examples are Benzene, Arsenic, Cadmuim, Carbon monoxide and Formaldehyde (WHO).
Mrs Boateng added, between 2000 and 2016, current tobacco smoking prevalence rates declined from 27% to 20%.
She noted, the tobacco control measures cover the following key areas: Prohibition of smoking in public places, Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, Packaging and labeling of tobacco products, Points of sale health warning.
Others are Minimum age restriction, Public education against tobacco use, Treatment of tobacco addiction, Sale of tobacco products and Collaboration with relevant bodies to check illicit tobacco trade.
Highlighting some activities planned to celebrate the day Mrs Boateng mentioned sensitization of Media and stakeholders on World No Tobacco Day, ongoing public education in Schools and marketplaces, churches, mosque and all other public places to raise awareness on the harmful effects of tobacco and tobacco products, health Walk and National Launch for World No Tobacco Day 2019.
The rest are, Prompt responses to complains, Public support and public enforcement, Engagement with interest groups and Collaboration with partner government agencies and organizations.
She stated, failure to adhere to this Law is an offence which shall attract severe sanctions and punishments including jail sentence.
Dr Tachie Farid of the Disease Control Prevention Department of the Ghana Health Service (GHS)and Focal Point for Tobacco Control said the campaign for World No Tobacco Day 2019 aims to increase awareness about the particular dangers of tobacco smoke to lung health and the fundamental role the lungs play in the health and well-being of all people.
According to him, the campaign also aims to raise awareness of cost-effective and feasible actions that key audiences, including governments and the public, can take to reduce the risks to lung health posed by tobacco.
“Lung health is not achieved merely through the absence of disease, and tobacco smoke has major implications for the lung health of smokers and non-smokers globally” he stated.
Dr. Farid emphasized, tobacco smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke increase the risk of contracting many lung diseases stating that, 90% of lung cancer deaths and approximately 8 out of 10 deaths caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis are caused by smoking.
He noted, tobacco use costs national economies enormously through increased health-care costs and decreased productivity. It worsens health inequalities and worsens poverty, as the poorest people spend less on essentials such as food, education and health care.
Dr Farid stated “Tobacco use is a threat to any person, regardless of gender, age, race, cultural or educational background. It brings suffering, disease, and death, impoverishing families and national economies.”
He added governments increasing taxes on tobacco products can also be used to finance other development programs.
He However said, the pace of action to reduce tobacco demand and related death and disease is lagging behind because of lack of commitment from global and national authorities indicating that, if the trend continues, the world will achieve only 22% reduction by 2025 (WHO) despite the 30% target.
Dr Farid urged students especially the junior high students to stay away from shisha use as it is more dangerous, addictive and poses serious health hazards to the body.